It is becoming a yearly struggle. Each year I slip further into adulthood, it seems harder and harder to get into “the Christmas spirit” when the calendar hits December 1.
I’m not even talking about the going-through-the- motions “Christmas spirit”; the one that pushes people by an unknown force to put up trees the weekend after Thanksgiving, start Christmas shopping on black Friday and (I feel the chunks rising in my throat) causes ill-advised radio stations to start playing Christmas tunes 24/7 on Thanksgiving.
While I applaud the ambition of people who put up their trees on Thanksgiving weekend, part of me grimaces at it. Because I’m just not ready by then. Not at all. If I’m being honest, I even sometimes resent the forced Christmas enthusiasm. (That’s just my reaction to it.)
Part of it, I’m sure, is my continual resentment of the retail world that puts Christmas on display shortly after Labor Day. That has been so frustrating to me for many years. Part of it is the last stages of the grieving process that summer is gone. Yes, it takes some time for me to get over it.
While I like to blame the faceless “retail” for their overzealous commercializing of Christmas, the cold-hearted feeling I find myself struggling with as a result is my own fault.
There, I said it. I am cold-hearted. At least that is how I feel when I can’t easily flip a switch in my brain and be excited for Christmas instantly after Thanksgiving. Part of the “magic” of Christmas tends to fade as one leaves childhood behind, right? But that is what is so frustrating. I guess I haven’t come to terms with the fact that I have to warm up to the idea of getting ready for Christmas.
The retail/commercialization only clouds the issue. Due to the looming deadline of getting all the gifts bought and the tree up, etc, Christmas prep begins, whether my heart is in it or not. That is also frustrating. I don’t enjoy going through the motions with no heart.
This post is really depressing so far. Don’t worry, I think it will get better.
My struggle, as a follower of Christ, is I feel really, really disconnected and guilty when I prep for Christmas without my heart plugged in to what that season is about (at least what it’s about for Christians). My love for Christ causes me to desire to set Him apart as Lord (1 Peter 3:15), and my station in life as a female values the feeling it part. So when I’m not feeling it, well, it doesn’t seem right.
Fortunately, there’s help for the temporarily cold-hearted individual such as myself.
In the days and weeks after Thanksgiving, the iciness surrounding my heart comes more and more under warmth that threatens to kill it. As I read God’s Word. As I think on what an unspeakably amazing gift God gave us in Christ incarnate. As I dwell on the extravagance of God’s kindness through salvation and through wonderful family and friends. As I sing Christmas carols at church that tell of the wonders of His great works.
Little by little, the ice melts away. It is just not as instant as it was when I was a kid. Though admittedly, the childhood excitement was more about presents than it was about God’s Gift. I guess I just wish I could turn it on at will. But ultimately, the important thing is that I find it before it is too late. And hopefully, that God uses me to share His story with someone else who is struggling with a cold heart. Sharing the joy and the reason for it is what it is all about, right? There ain’t no ice that is a match for that.